Thursday, August 05, 2010

I Know It's Summer When...

*I realize I've been wearing Silly Bands for weeks and I have no idea where they came from or WHY?!

*Saturday feels like every other day

*Iced coffee and ice cream are entire food groups

*Haven't used a blow dryer in ages

*Consciously remind myself to change out of my pool garb before Brad gets home for dinner

*Due to cleaning neglect, my house doesn't meet even the lowest health code standards

*Other than ice cream, we're only eating foods that can be cooked on the grill {including pizza and vegetables}

*Can't get enough coconut creme creamer in the a.m. coffee {Belgian Chocolate toffee in the iced afternoon version, in case you were wondering}

*there've been enough frogs brought into my house to replicate a plague

*I don't want any of this {even the frogs} to end.

Stay tuned: First day of school is tomorrow. I'll try my best to be cheerful.

Friday, July 30, 2010

$2 Afternoon

Look what I found on clearance at Target today:

Ye Olde Slip n' Slide.

Honestly, not as great as I remembered from days of yore.

But the kids still had fun. Sort of.

There was a lot of arguing, squabbling, and all-around bickering.

But the {bad} pictures make it look like we had a ball.

Part of me is glad that when I am old and wearing elastic pants, I won't remember the details of today's arguments. Because they were 100% ridiculous.

I'll see pictures of late summer tans, spraying waterfalls, and sunshine, and remember when the kids didn't have a care in the world beyond which ice cream flavor to have for dessert.

And maybe which swim suit to wear next.

But I'll just remember good times with cousins...even if tempers occasionally flare and their favorite part of the night was playing Jail.

I'm just not ready for all this summertime fun to end.

School starts next week. Do we have to go?

Mister Chubs is not going anywhere.

Maybe we'll just skip out ourselves...

...but the arguing might convince me otherwise.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Adventure Day, Yee Haw!

Every Friday 'round these very exciting parts is Adventure Day! {For some reason, I picture myself saying that in a kind of cowboy drawl dressed like Goofy in Frontier Land.}

Adventure Day, of course, is the catch-all for doing activities other than going to the pool or Costco.

After making the Summer Fun List, I thought it would be nice to have a day where we could take our wild and crazy selves around town for some...summer fun. The great thing about kids is that it doesn't take much to constitute an adventure.

Heck, an empty Costco box and a Sharpie kept Lilly entertained for 3 hours today.

But a few weeks ago, Brad and I loaded up Tiger and Tigress to hit the driving range.

I'm sure these are everywhere, but our local range has an upper deck that allows even the worst shots to get some air and make 8 year-olds feel like John Daly at Augusta.

J is actually developing a nice little swing and regularly hits shots longer than mine.

I take that moment to picture myself caddying for him in juniors tournaments...handing him the wrong clubs, but getting a tan while wearing cute clothes.

{I'd have to think twice if they made me wear those Masters-y jumpsuits.}

But J clearly has some Sport Confusion going on with his wardrobe.

That's ok, I'm sure Michael Jordan wears an old Bulls jersey every now and then when he plays a round of golf.

And then there's the Bean:

As you could probably tell from her setup, striking the ball is still a worthy goal.

But DANG, she looks cute barely dribbling the ball to the end of the safety net.

The only downside to the driving range is that it lacks two of my favorite golf components: the cart and the pro shop.

Luckily, I recently had the chance to be the... {you might want to swallow your cereal before you read on}... OFFICIAL PHOTOGRAPHER for a charity golf event.

Other than taking incredibly marginal pictures with a borrowed fancy camera, the best part was driving the golf cart. {As if I had to mention that.}

My friend and I toured the entire course and pretended to live in the amazing homes that lined the back greens. We also off-roaded (just a little) to take some shortcuts through some questionable "rough."

I should probably mention that Cari's back was sore and she had to go to the chiropractor the day after...which she blamed on the excessive jostling of the cart. {It was more of a shocks issue than the chauffeur/photographer.}

After wrapping up a few hours of photography and some possible breaches of golf course etiquette, we hit the pro shop.

They have the coolest stuff...outfits that I only dream of having a place to wear, saddle oxford golf shoes, and so many technical wicking fabrics that your skin starts to spontaneously dry out upon entering.

That said, even if I had a spare $70 for a these golf shorts, I'm just not sure I could drop the cash on one item for a sport in which I have a minimal hope and future. {But I stand by the fact that the first step to success in any venture is the right outfit.}

Oh, Brad wanted me to point out one last thing...

...the photo his blurry because of his amazing club speed and fabulous new driver.


Wednesday, July 07, 2010

A Giant Leap for Momkind

It's no secret that so far, this is the summer of my dreams. Even without a trip to somewhere lizardy and exotic, this is probably the most relaxation I've had since 2001.

For the sensitive and mathematically savvy out there, it feels downright mean to hint at the fact that summer has been a little non-fun since I had kids, but it's slightly (cough cough) true.

Of course there has been "fun"--the kind of excitement and thrills that are available when you take toddlers to the pool. And the thrills are multiplied when these toddlers love the water so incredibly much that they are FEARLESS and try to drown themselves regularly.

Both Jackson and Lilly discovered immense joy by catapulting off the side of the pool before they had the faintest clue that emerging from deep waters alive would be a nice follow-up to a canon ball. They didn't even gesture for me to "watch this!" or "catch me!"

{p.s. i cannot even tell you how many things i love about this photo}

NO. They waited until I blinked for one nanosecond or dared to pick my swimsuit out of my hiney to run to the other end of the pool and try some daring stunt (headfirst, if they were really plotting things out) into water far deeper than their toddler stature.

{they shunned flotation devices and the zero-depth section in infancy}

At this point, the lifeguards were whistling violently and clearing out the pool. While I hung my head in obligatory motherhood shame, the OTHER child, who I admittedly left unattended to rescue the co-conspirator, had pulled the same stunt at the other end of the pool, thus clearing out a 25 meter swimming radius.

If you aren't relaxed and thinking of strawberry daquiris and palm trees by now, then pull up a lounge chair (or DON'T since I hadn't sat poolside in nearly a decade) and get ready for Act 2: Adult Swim.

Step 1: Lifeguards blow whistle to get kids out of water.

Step 2: My kids dramatically sob and cry because paid teenage sunbathers force them to stop their near-drowning tactics for 10 minutes while they check to make sure no one has puked in the pool.

Step 3: I finally calm the kids down and bribe them with a snack.

Step 4: Approximately 2 minutes later, the lifeguard blows his whistle, signaling everyone to jump in.

Step 5: Kids start crying because they are TORN between wanting to eat and wanting to swim and they desperately want to take food in the pool.

Step 6: I cry behind my over-sized, under-priced sunglasses because I am exhausted and cannot win and there isn't even a Snack Shack to sell me a consolation prize ice cream bar.

{i cannot believe they used to fit in a chair together}

Of course, I quickly discovered the route to true happiness was the backyard pool with waterslide.

The greatest downside is that there is no dignified way for an overheated adult to get wet except to slink over the deflating sides of the starfish pool and curl up sideways in the fetal position.

Which, since I have no dignity, I did from time to time.

(I'll not even list the drawbacks to the backyard swimmer's paradise, except to mention the freezing water temperature, dead grass patch, obvious peeing in the pool, wide variety of bugs and their eggs, enough grass to support a small pasture, and entire popsicles submerged and then eaten.)

Clearly, this is all a distant memory as I read novels (yes, actual books, not just magazine headlines) from the sidelines now.

I do miss the sweet toddler smiles and daily language discovery, but the swim diapers gone awry and pre-naptime meltdowns are blessedly forgotten(ish).

All that drowning/swimming chaos aside, I thought it was wise to bring a teeny bit of structure to our summer. And it looks like this:

Nothing big, but a small daily goal to bring some rhythm to decidedly lazy days. We're a few weeks in and the kids and I are loving it.

What I didn't put on the schedule is "pool"...every single day.

Ah yes, the world is as it should be.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Largo Teal

I forgot to tell you...I painted my front door a lovely turquoise at the end of May.

It needed a little snazzing.

Don't get me wrong...I looooved the black door. Truly, it had been a dream of mine for quite some time.

But if you know me at all, my paint dreams change. Frequently.

So, for right now, I'm pretending I live in a beach house.

If it's a great summer, it will be "The Summer of the Blue Door!"

And if it's a crummy summer (which doesn't seem possible at this point), it will be "The Summer of the Blue Door!"

I also opened a cabana in the driveway. It serves frosted circus animal crackers and raspberry lemonade with straws.

(Melted waxy crayon all over new Costco beach towels is free!)

And our clientele is very exclusive:
I love summer.

(Almost as much as I love those pink buns on the right.)

Thursday, July 01, 2010


Friday, June 25, 2010

Livin' La Vida Low Key


Now that summer is officially upon us, I am officially ecstatic.

Most of the time, it seems like a cruel joke that the most wonderful time of the year--summer--is frustratingly short. But the hap-hap-happiest season of all is off to such a perfect start in 2010 that I am hoping to bottle it right up and inhale it next February when I am wearing three hoodies and cursing the latest blizzard.

I am not one for planning or organizing things {or being timely or remembering anything at all}, but I DO like to make sure that I am responsible about having fun.

So, on the first day of NO SCHOOL, the kids and I like to brainstorm a list of our Summer Goals and Objectives.

It goes without saying that the completion of these activities is very serious. I use it as an opportunity to teach the kids about dreaming big and working diligently to reach for the stars.

Of course, it also enables a lot of gratuitous eating and ice cream consumption, so we all win!

One of my goals for the summer was to blog about each of our adventures so when I am 60 {or honestly, next fall}, I can savor the memories and have evidence that the temperature does, in fact, rise above 70.

Sadly, we've done about half the list already (seeing as we've been out of school for awhile now) and I'm already about a dozen blogs behind.

Maybe someday I will dig deep and hire a personal assistant to help me reach my goals.

But for now, I thought I'd leave you with one of the most enduring images of our summer:

I didn't even know what lovely piece of machinery was called a few weeks ago, but apparently it's a manifold. Not sure if there are various types of manifolds, but this one controls our sprinkler system.

Or, shall I say, controlled.

{If pipes and wires submerged in water look fishy to you, then you are on to something big.}

Another blog entitled, "The Trampoline Pit of Death That Almost Ended Our Marriage But Ended Up Being Ok and Even Fun" is needed to fully describe that manifold. Maybe I'll even blog about it someday, but probably not.

{Not because of the emotional pain, but because of the fact that I don't really blog much.}

But now we have an in-ground trampoline, a semi-functional sprinkler system AND celebrated 11 years of marriage all in the same week.

And that, my friends, is not as simple as it sounds.

Ok, for real, sunrise on my back deck:

An oversized mug of perfectly creamed coffee, a sleeping house, and the Word are enough to remind me that knowing Jesus better is my purpose each day.

Plus, I haven't gotten to the part in Genesis where Eve really stressed over her sprinkler zones and the destruction of the manifold when Adam drove over it with a Bobcat.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Dad's Day

One of the best surprises about getting married is when the person to whom you're married turns out to be a great dad.

And I'm not just saying that due to his ability to produce kids who look exactly like him.

It's one thing to think and even believe the person you're marrying will be a great dad, but until there's a little person involved and you see him hold a colicky baby all night long and then go to work the next day, exhausted, but never complaining, you don't know for sure.

But I do now.

There's also his desire to wear a Santa hat every single Christmas day. {No idea where that hat came from or why he's worn it for 11 years straight, or for that matter, where he stores it the rest of the year, but the kids like it.}

I'm so thankful Brad is great....not just because he jumps on the trampoline with a full stomach right after dinner or educates the kids on classic rock bands or has never been the first one to say he's done playing catch.

Mostly because he loves God with all his heart and pours that love into Jackson and Lilly's lives every single day.

Through his prayers, through his time, through his words.

When Brad was ten years old, his dad was killed by a co-worker. This month, 22 years later, the woman who murdered his dad, (and also shot another man, leaving him a quadriplegic) requested a clemency hearing.

The court asked Brad, his brother, mom, and uncle to write letters expressing why they believe this woman should not be set free.

With Brad's permission, I'm posting a little excerpt of his letter. No matter how many times I hear how great of a man, dad, and husband Dale Rowell was, it still makes me pause.

And then I remember why I'm actually never surprised that Brad is an amazing father.

Read on:

"My name is Brad Rowell and I am Dale Rowell’s youngest son. I was ten years old when my dad was murdered by (name.) My dad was a wonderful father and I have such great memories of him and our life together. Dad coached my baseball and soccer teams and made a point to play with me on weeknights when he got home from work. He also was committed to family dinners around the kitchen table and after dinner we would read the Bible and pray together. I loved camping with Dad at the Indiana Sand Dunes and our long road trips to both the east and west coasts. I remember helping dad with projects around the house and at church – he had such a servant heart. I remember sledding and ice skating in the winter and riding bikes in the summer. He was a wonderful father and I will always have these great memories.

But there are, and will continue to be, experiences that my Dad missed because of (her) heinous crime. My dad was robbed of so many things: Little things like simply seeing how I look. I’m much different at age 32 than I was at age 10. Major things like never seeing me get married or holding my two children in his arms.

And all the things in between: never seeing me as the captain of my high school soccer team, never seeing me graduate from college, never talking with me about my first job, never talking with me about owning my home and doing projects like he used to, never seeing me be involved in my own church the way he was, and on and on and on. I continue to think of my dad often I still miss him terribly."

What strikes me is the huge impact Brad's father had in ten short years. He chose to live each day like most people dream of--never wasting an opportunity to invest in his boys.

And I'm thankful that I get glimpses of Dale each day through Brad's kindness, patience, and fun-loving spirit.